It helps to be ready for the end

PHOTO: It helps to be ready for the end

SINGAPORE - Death is always out there, somewhere.

It looms in the newspapers, announcing its presence as gory murders, accidents and in obituaries; in most blockbuster movies, where characters perish in all ways imaginable; and in video games, where you can "die" many times over.

Closer to home, one may have experienced the demise of elderly loved ones, while those with pets may have endured the grief that death brings when their animal companions depart.

But have you thought about your own death? Specifically, how you would like to be cared for as you approach the end of your tether.

Morbid as it may be, the process goes beyond outlining medical care to doctors and family members. In a survey of 60 patients at the National Heart Centre Singapore, 70 per cent felt the discussion helped them to reflect on their personal values and identify their end-of-life care preferences.

Indeed, when you are asked to choose how you want to bow out, it indubitably makes you ponder about what matters the most. Is dying at home, in your own bed, meaningful to you?

Or is it enough to have your loved ones by your side, be it at a hospital or elsewhere? Would you refuse life support or continue to cling on for awhile, just so your family members have time to say goodbye? Whatever your preferences may be, it is important to discuss them with your loved ones.

A study by Singapore General Hospital published in 2012 found that patients were often at odds with their kin over final wishes.

In one in three cases, patients and their closest relatives had different ideas about life support.

Some may argue that death is too taboo to be spoken about so openly. Yet, it is inevitable. Just as we seek to find meaning in life, there is, perhaps, also some meaning to be found in death.

Get a copy of Mind Your Body, The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.